Monday, 27 July 2015

I know - why don't we ask members of London's "diverse communities" to learn English instead!

As of today, all new Metropolitan police constables will have to be able to speak a second language. But not just any second language - one of the following:
Yoruba (Nigeria), Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Italian, German, Turkish, Greek, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Sinhali (Sri Lanka), Bengali

According to the Met press release announcing the scheme, it's in order "to bring officers into the Met with more of the skills necessary to help police and engage with London's diverse communities as effectively as possible."

If applicants don't speak one of these languages, they will be unable to apply for a job as a bobby.

At first sight, this strikes me as another of those daft gentrification schemes, similar to the one that has resulted in a generation of nurses with pseudo-degrees which mean they're far too grand to empty bed-pans or ensure that patients dying of thirst have some water to drink - you know, that kind of unlettered, blue-collar stuff that now tends to fall between the cracks.

Exactly why any London police officer should be expected to speak German or Hebrew (for God's sake!) is utterly beyond me. If a German or a Jew or a NIgerian (remember, it used to be a British colony) is living in London, you can be pretty damned sure they speak enough English to get by. And if they're mono-lingual tourists - well, tough! As for Arab, Hindu, Sri Lankan or Bengali residents, perhaps we should be encouraging them to learn English? It's not our business to bend over backwards in order to obviate the necessity for immigrants to become conversant with the language of the country in which, presumably, they've chosen to live.

I'm sure most law-abiding Londoners would far prefer new cops to be good at police work rather than languages. And if the point of this ridiculous exercise is to help police track down criminals communicating in the relevant languages, what about Romanian, Bulgarian and Albanian? Obviously being able to call on a pool of cops capable of understanding, say, Arabic (because of terrorism) and Polish (because there are so many of them there are bound to be a few bad apples) would be useful - but, even so, expecting all recruits to be polyglots would seem to represent a classic example of over-engineering. Why not just say that candidates with knowledge of a relevant language will stand a better chance of being hired than those without?

BBC One has just broadcast an excellent TV documentary series entitled The Met: Policing London. I'd be astonished if more than a handful of the featured police officers spoke a second language (some of them were having enough trouble with English) - but the majority of them struck one as bloody good cops: calm, careful, meticulous, authoritative and reasonable.

Farcically, this recruitment scheme has been described as a one-month pilot - i.e. some bright spark has come up with a pointless piece of nonsense designed to earn brownie points by giving the (wholly false) impression that a perceived "issue" is being addressed, when it's actually just being punted into touch.

According to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe (did he get the job), he is "committed to providing a police service which looks and feels more like London." I'm sure the vast majority of Londoners would prefer a police force designed to protect those of us who pay for it from criminals. I personally couldn't give a toss what they "look" or "feel" like.

In case you think I'm making this up, you can read the story in the Daily Mirror, here.


  1. Given the number of Francophone Africans I've encountered in London I'm puzzled that French isn't on the list.

    Of course why they are here is another matter altogether..

    1. Presumably because France's socialist government has - inevitably - destroyed their economy.

      There are over 600,000 African migrants living in London, apparently.

  2. I'm sure Hollande will have increased the numbers but my observation was made before he was handed the poison chalice. In fact I can distinctly remember the first time I noticed it. I was walking down Streatham High Rd in 2007 with an American friend and I suddenly realised almost every other person in the street was jabbering away in French.

    That 600,000 figure is interesting. I wonder if it's accurate? There are times when I could believe it for white South Africans and what-was-Rhodesians alone - the city seems full of them.

    1. No idea about its accuracy - I took it from a pro-immigration site. There are certainly quite a few (black) Africans in this area of West London, most employed and working hard writing parking tickets, running shops and washing cars etc. - I know there are lots of them doing higher-grade jobs, because I see them coming back from work in the evening. Then there are the Somali women taking their children to and from the local state primary school - there are rather a lot of them, too. Surprisingly few white South Africans or Zimbabweans (in my experience) but LOTS of white French, Spanish, Italians and Americans. I hate to sound like a "cuckservative", but it's a nice mixture where we are - half a mile to the north or east, not so harmonious.